Re/Read is an occasional column by Fantagraphics Bookstore curator Larry Reid examining backlist titles you may have missed or are worth another look. This time we’ll focus on Beasts and Priests by former Fantagraphics art director Jim Blanchard.
As the title suggests, Beasts and Priests documents both divine and demonic personalities of American pop culture: from Rat Pack louts and rogue politicians to revered rock ‘n’ rollers and stars of the silver screen. Blanchard employs ingenious treatments to capture the cult of personality that surrounds these figures. Mod fashion model Twiggy, Manson murder victim Sharon Tate, and sixties sex symbols Raquel Welch and Bridgette Bardot are among those rendered in a seductive sticker technique that’s startling in its simplicity. Others, like Lenny Bruce, Lemmy Kilmister, Little Richard, Henry Kissinger, Frances Farmer, and Courtney Love appear in meticulous pointillistic portraits. The book includes nearly 100 arresting images. Each one conveys the essence of the subject. As celebrated graphic designer Art Chantry observes in the introduction, “Jim Blanchard can draw anything in any style. It’s amazing, really.”
Meet the artist at Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery this Saturday, November 12 from 6:00 to 9:00 PM for the unveiling of Visual Abuse: Jim Blanchard’s Graphic Art, 1982 – 2002 featuring an exhibition of Blanchard’s rock imagery associated with Seattle’s grudge movement. Copies of both books will be available for the artist to sign, along with a selection of affordable prints. His exhibition remains on view though December 8. The bookstore is located at 1201 S. Vale Street in the heart of Seattle’s colorful Georgetown arts community. Open daily 11:30 to 8:00 PM, Sundays until 5:00 PM. Phone 206-658-0110. See you all soon.